April 2, 2014

From: David Patriquin
6165 Murray Place,
Halifax, Nova Scotia,
B3H 1R9
e-mail: patriqui@dal.ca

To: Mayor Mike Savage and Councilor Waye Mason,
Halifax Regional Council.
cc: Councilors Barry Dalrymple, David Hendsbee, Bill Karsten, Lorelei Nicoll, Gloria McCluskey, Darren Fisher, Jennifer Watts, Linda Mosher, Russell Walker, Stephen Adams, Reg Rankin, Matt Whitman, Brad Johns, Steve Craig, Tim Outhit

Re: HRM Pesticide By-law

Dear Mayor Savage, Councilor Mason:

I am writing concerning the proposal to rescind the HRM Pesticide By-law on the assumption that it is redundant now that similar Provincial legislation is in place. The key word is "similar". HRM took the lead in this process both within Nova Scotia and nationally and many others have emulated the HRM By-law, including the province. However, the HRM Pesticide By-law is more stringent in several respects and thus the decision is really one of "do we want to weaken the present provisions within HRM?" My understanding is that if the HRM scraps the Pesticide Bylaw we will lose:
  1. Mandatory buffer zones around schools, daycares, hospitals, clinics, churches, senior citizens' residences, universities and churches.
  2. Pre-signage before more dangerous pesticides are used making our ability to avoid involuntary pesticide exposure.
  3. Pre-notification when more toxic pesticide products are used.
I assume that one component of the rationale for rescinding the By-Law is that toxic pesticides are no longer in use routinely. I do have some issues with that assumption, e.g., related to toxicity of pyrethrins and chelated iron products to wildlife, as well as sensitivity of a portion of the population to pyrethrins.

However, my immediate concern and the major concern people with compromised immune systems and pregnant women and parents of young children express is that when exceptions are made allowing use of the more toxic materials, the protection cited in the three points above does not occur. Indeed, I think it may not have been occurring recently - I note that old links to "HRM's Pesticide By-Law & Sustainable Gardening & Landscape Maintenance" now refer the user to the Government of Nova Scotia website.

Halifax (HRM) has developed a reputation as a smart city and a leader in environmental protection, notably in relation to our recycling program and in developing restrictions on cosmetic pesticides and promoting positive alternatives. It is a city that is attractive to young people, many or most of whom want to live in the core areas, which we are trying to encourage. Why would we take steps to consciously reduce that appeal?

I simply urge you to retain the By-law as it stands at this juncture. I suggest that it would be appropriate to review the By-law, with public input and discussion, over the ensuing year to determine how it can be more effectively used.

David Patriquin

Professor of Biology (retired)
Dalhousie University

Control of Chinch Bug without Pesticides